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The great marine poet Thomas Dylan has a special place in his heart for even the tiniest sea creatures – dinoflagellates. Which is why we were thrilled to work with him in celebrating these under appreciated sea creatures in our first live musical event: Dinoflagella. Microscopic and coming in all different weird shapes, Dinoflagellates serve as food for most of the ocean’s animal life. But when they get together in large numbers they do things you can actually see…some of which are toxic. Here is a piece done for the Encyclopedia of Life that excerpts some of the show and features Dylan’s poetry.

If you’re a lobster, death can come in many ways. You might, for example, get eaten by an octopus, smashed into rocks, or get caught by humans and pressurized to death in the Big Mother Shucker. One thing you don’t have to worry about, though, is dying of old age. Apparently, lobsters show no signs of aging; their metabolisms don’t slow down, they don’t get weaker, and they don’t lose reproductive ability – they just get bigger and bigger. In fact, the only indication of a lobster’s age is it’s size. So in theory, there could be a HUGE lobster that has survived simply by being careful enough to live a long, happy life, uninterrupted by sudden death. In theory he could then share his wisdom through song, and, in theory, be called Leroy. Here’s the NPR piece featuring the song and here’s a totally anticlimactic video of a lobster molting (molting of course being THE KEY to getting really big).

The World cup has ended and so too has the annoying drone of the Vuvuzela. Now the question is what to do with all these spittle encrusted instruments? Some ideas can be found here. But really who cares? What’s really important is that the real Vuvuzelas only play one note: B-Flat.  And that makes them special. B-Flat is the MOST special note because male alligators think it sounds like other male alligators, there’s at least ONE star (a pulsar) that vibrates at the same frequency, and there’s a stairwell somewhere near Cape Cod that resonates in B-Flat (no other note is THAT universal). Here’s the piece we did for NPR that celebrates this phantastic phenomenon.

DNA is the answer

Yes, it’s the 199th birthday of Franz Liszt today BUT it was Craig Venter‘s birthday 8 days ago and he’s only 64 (which is 8 squared). Since 8 is good luck in China and to commemorate the birth of a guy who spends all day playing around with DNA we’re revisiting a piece we did for Radiolab’s show on the possibilities and perils of artificially creating life. If messing with DNA really IS the answer to all our problems then bio-engineers deserve as much fanfare as we can give them. So here’s our salute to all of you genetic modifiers out there!

Featured this time around are members of the Friends-of-Higher-Mammals Master Chorale (they are: Kendra May, Kysa Christie, Maura Reilly, Tove Finnestad, Wendy Roderweiss, Nicholas Longobardi, JonPaul Burkhart, Frank Hayn III, Reid Swanson, Kate Ivanjack, D.J. Pick, Jason Major). I’d rather be swapping genes!

To help our friends at Radiolab out with their episode about stochasticity, we put together this catchy song (trust me, you’ll think that’s less funny when you’re humming it later), then went completely nuts and made a video for it. What is stochasticity, you ask? Click away.

When you have some more time check out Radiolab’s archived show for a few head-scratching stories of stochasticity at work.